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The Sin of Failing to Pray for Others

When we think about sin, we so often think about transgressions - when we do what God has forbidden. Yet, arguably, the bulk of our sin is when we fail to do what he has commanded. Even more, when we fall short in any way of the selfless love for God and others that he has created us for. 

So my verse for this “favorite verse” series is a strange one for a favorite. Yet it is a verse that has echoed in my mind and heart since I first read it in my teens. It is a statement made by the Judge/Prophet/Priest Samuel. Israel had pleaded to have a king to lead them in battle like all the other nations around them. This was ultimately another instance of failing to have faith in God’s protection and provision, and a desire to be like all other nations instead. It was a sinful rejection of God - and Samuel had just told them as much. God backed up what he was saying by fulfilling Samuel’s prophetic sign that there would a thunder storm to show God’s displeasure with their request. However, Samuel does not leave them in that place of guilt and failure. He reminds them to be faithful to God and that God will always be faithful to them. Then, he speaks of how he will serve them for the remainder of his days (because he had initially taken their request for a king as a rejection of his own leadership - though it was ultimately a rejection of God).

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; - 1 Samuel 12:23a

Samuel’s heart, like God’s, was to be faithful in caring for these people. And particularly to be faithful in the area of prayer (and teaching as the verse continues). This struck me in my youth and continues to strike me in my -er- middle ages. Samuel recognizes that if he were to stop caring about these people, and putting that care into sincere action by interceding for them before God, he would be sinning. He saw the issue that simply and clearly. How many times I have sinned against others by failing to pray for them! Not out of animosity, but out of simple neglect. Which is nothing more than lazy selfishness. Or more plainly - a lack of Christian love. Time and again the Lord has used this verse as a goad to urge me into prayer. Not just prayer for obedience sake, but as the whole context implies, to urge me into care. To love deeply enough to be diligent when my flesh feels sluggish and my mind distracted. From there the verse grows through reflection to a broader reminder that our sinfulness extends to all kinds of inactivity - and that we are to be diligent in all kinds of good work. All kinds of loving deeds. All kinds of worship! Even as Christ washed away our transgressions, may he fill up the gap of our undone deeds, both in his own record of works, and by his Spirit keep us from sins of omission.

20 Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. - Hebrews 13:20–21

In Christ,

Pastor Brandon Current